Denim Sustainability Starts with Traceability

Denim Sustainability Starts with Traceability

Denim is a fabric steeped in tradition, but innovation is necessary if it is to become green and sustainable. Fortunately, there are many denim manufacturers(1) ( #The Quest for Better Blue Jeans: How Designers are Doing Denim Better ) committed to making that a reality.
Stakeholders want transparency in the denim supply chain: after all, if you know where a product originates, you can figure out whether or not it is sustainable – and if not, what you have to do to get it there. 
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Transparency Starts with Traceability 
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According to the 2020 Denim Sustainability Report, achieving transparency starts with traceability.
Refibra 
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For example, when manufacturer Lenzing launched Refribra in 2017, they also introduced a new identification system to keep track of and identify Refibra fibers in finished textiles. This information is verifiable at four global testing labs which Lenzing maintains for the purpose of fabric certification. 
Lenzing enters certified fabrics in an e-branding database, and retailers can then apply for a license to use the Refibra brand name. 
FibreTrace
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Another company dedicated to traceability is FibreTrace, a firm that assists supply chain partners by providing real-time verifiable insight to allow for a single and unified view of where a product lies in their chain. 
FibreTrace Director Danielle Statham explained that the company can display scientific data “surrounding raw fibers and create a unique passport of the item to be read and tracked at every stage of the supply chain.”
FibreTrace’s system uses patented nanotechnology particles embedded in cellulose fibers, able to be incorporated into any natural or man-made fiber at the start of the production process. The particles are readable instantly by means of a handheld scanner, allowing users to verify where the fabric has been. 
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The Hemp Alternative 
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Hemp has become a sustainable alternative to conventional all-cotton denim. Hemp has anti-flammable, biodegradable, and regenerative properties that give it advantages from a sustainability perspective. 
The Turkish manufacturing firm Orta created a hemp-blended cotton – including 20% hemp and 20% recycled cotton – in its Denimimicry collection.
Zennure Danisman, Orta’s marketing and washing manager, said that it is time to “rethink value for today’s eco-modern world.” For Danisman, the real question is “’What is the cost to the denim industry if we lose the next generation of conscious-forward consumers by only valuing price?’”
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Upcycling on the Upswing
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Upcycling, the practice of creatively reusing fabrics, has also been growing in popularity. Upcycled and fully sustainable looks are on the rise, notably with the work of companies like Urban Outfitters and its Urban Renewal Initiative.
Urban Outfitters repurposes and reinvents sustainably sourced vintage pieces. Garments are sold either in their original state, fashioned out of deadstock(2) ( #No More Deadstock: The Movement to End Wasteful Fashion Practices ) materials, or remade into pieces designed to resonate with current styles. 
Lexicon: 
The Quest for Better Blue Jeans: How Designers are Doing Denim Better article ( Learn more )
No More Deadstock: The Movement to End Wasteful Fashion Practices more ( Learn more )
 

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